Autism vs. ADHD: A Parent’s Guide to Tricky Diagnoses

Social delays. Communication difficulties. Repetitive behaviors. What’s behind them: ADHD? Autism? Both? When conditions overlap, parents need an intimate understanding of each diagnosis to manage treatment – and everyday life.

Managing Autism Symptoms

ADDitude Magazine

Usually a child who has been diagnosed with ASD is not given an additional diagnosis of ADHD. This is not to say, however, that children on the autism spectrum don’t benefit from the interventions that help ADHD children without autism.

Most parents and pediatricians prefer to start with non-medical therapies to manage symptoms that hinder social and academic success and lead to a turbulent home life. The mainstay of treatment for ASD is behavioral therapy, which reinforces wanted behaviors and discourages unwanted ones. Posting lists, rules, and schedules to keep ASD kids organized can be helpful. Checking off checklists can give autistic kids a sense of accomplishment when they complete tasks.

Physical exercise is a good intervention for attention deficit children and children on the autism spectrum, all of whom seem to have boundless energy. Channeling excess energy into a physical activity, such as swimming or karate -- which doesn’t require a lot of interaction with other kids -- allows them to burn it off without the pressures of socializing.

Next: Autism Medication Options


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TAGS: Comorbid Conditions with ADD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder

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